Seeks Obama’s intervention to stop frivolous legal proceedings
A human rights lawyer,a Mr. Femi Falana, yesterday accused the Governments of the United Kingdom, United States and Switzerland of frustrating Nigeria from recovering and repatriating public funds stolen by the late military Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha.
Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), asked the US President Barack Obama to ensure that all frivolous legal proceedings filed against the recovery of the stolen funds “are withdrawn before January 20, 2017.”
He made the allegation in a statement he issued yesterday, detailing proof evidence that established the opposition of the UK, US and Switzerland to recovering and repatriating funds Abacha looted from Nigeria’s national treasury.
He acknowledged that after the Muhammadu Buhari administration was inaugurated, the Governments of the UK, US, and Switzerland promised “to facilitate the repatriation of the stolen wealth of Nigeria.”
Apart from describing Nigeria as a fantastically corrupt, however, Falana said the immediate past British Prime Minister, Mr. David Cameron, did not accede “to the request of President Buhari to recover and repatriate the looted wealth of Nigeria which has been located in the UK.”
He explained that in spite of several assurances, the US Government “has continued to frustrate the legal proceedings filed by Nigeria in Jersey, UK for the recovery and repatriation of the remaining Abacha loot.
“On its own part the Swiss Government has imposed a conditionality before repatriating the sum of $321 million in its custody to Nigeria. While it cannot be disputed that the government of the US is committed to the recovery of the Abacha loot, it has vigorously opposed the repatriation of the loot to Nigeria.”
He lamented that the federal government had adopted various routes and strategies to freeze, recover and repatriate to Nigeria the proceeds of corruption amassed by Abacha and his associates.
The human right activist explained that legal proceedings “have been filed in many courts including a criminal complaint in Switzerland and requests for mutual legal assistance to various European nations.
“Others include claims in England (both in the Commercial Court and the Chancery Division) directly against inter alia Mohammed Sani Abacha and Abubakar Atiku Bagudu together with companies associated with them, including Doraville Property Corporation,” Falana explained.
He referred to an anti-corruption workshop held at the American Embassy at Abuja on December 8 when he accuse the Governments of the United States and Switzerland of frustrating the legal proceedings initiated by Nigeria to recover and repatriate the remaining Sani Abacha loot.
He cited the case of $300 million Abacha money “held by either of Doraville (company held by the Abacha Family or associates) or the Viscount in Jersey (Channel Island) where frivolous legal proceedings had been initiated to oppose the recovery of the stolen funds.
In response to his allegation, Falana said the Chief of Mission of the US Embassy, Mr. Young replied that the US Government would enter into dialogue with the federal government on the remaining Abacha loot.
He condemned the stance of the US, which he said, was entirely contrary “to the purpose and spirit of the mutual legal assistance request. The request was intended to bring about the recovery of monies for Nigeria which after all is the victim of the fraud and the rightful owner of these monies.”
He lamented that US “has itself already shown a complete disregard of any mutual understanding or co-operation between itself and Nigeria by continuing to pursue forfeiture proceedings against the assets of Blue Holding (1) PTE Limited and Blue Holding (2) PTE Limited.”
Falana, therefore, warned that the idea of fresh dialogue being suggested to by the United States Government “is further going to delay the recovery and repatriation of the $300 million.”
He argued that since the US “has no legal claim to the said sum $300 million, we call on President Obama to ensure that the frivolous objections filed in the recovery proceedings in the High Court in Jersey by the US are withdrawn before the end of his term of office on January 20, 2017.
On the same ground, the human rights activists called on the Government of Switzerland “to repatriate the sum of $321 million of the Abacha loot to Nigeria without any further delay.”